Dear Annie: I have been married to "Vic" for 22 years. Our marriage is solid. We have an 18-year-old daughter, "Kara," who is totally in love with her father. Vic is, in turn, greatly attached to her. He always has been a nurturing and loving man, and their relationship has never bothered me, though it strains our relationship when the two of them occasionally team up against me.
Here's the problem. This past weekend, we went on a vacation with my sister. Sis was disturbed when Kara sat on her father's lap while having a conversation with him. She also disapproved of their playfulness, with the two of them tickling and wrestling. My sister seems to believe their relationship is strange and the attention Kara gets from her father ought to belong to me.
I do sometimes feel left out, but I always have been an independent person and run my life accordingly. My husband knows that. I truly don't see anything wrong here. I see a father who admires and loves his daughter and a daughter who would do anything for him. I don't want to worry about this. If I bring it to Vic's attention, he'll ask me what I think, and I'm not sure. What is your opinion?
- Ohio Mom
Dear Ohio: It doesn't sound like anything seriously improper is going on, but you should discourage the wrestling, tickling and lap sitting. Tell Vic that Kara is too old to be so physical with him and he needs to find other ways to maintain a playful, loving relationship with his daughter. It also will help for Kara to become more interested in boys her own age.
Dear Annie: May I say something about people who make assumptions about someone's age? My 18-year-old daughter is on the petite side. She is 4-foot-11 and weighs 95 pounds. On several occasions, we have been invited to dinner at a restaurant and asked by our host if we would need a child's menu. I usually respond by giving them a quizzical look, saying, "No. Why do you ask?" Sometimes, however, the question brings my daughter to tears.
If someone wants a child's menu, they will ask for one. If it turns out you accidentally hand an adult menu to a child, the worst that can happen is that the young person will be pleased to be mistaken for someone older.
- Shorty's Mom
Dear Mom: Granted, no one should make assumptions about another's age, regardless of how old, but your daughter needs to toughen up. She is going to be confronted with this for the rest of her life and should find ways to deal with it instead of bursting into tears. (The good news is, when she is 50, people will assume she is 20 years younger.)